Most computer makers have historically focused on two distinct markets -- big businesses and consumers -- which misses a huge potentially lucrative market that's been largely caught in limbo. Small businesses.
HP addressed that gap Tuesday when it rolled out its new ProLiant MicroServer .
"The ProLiant MicroServer was designed from the ground up for micro and small businesses," Jim Ganthier, HP's vice president of marketing for industry standard servers, told Small Business Computing.
Given that many, if not most, small businesses do not currently have a server, the MicroServer is targeted to provide centralized control and security of data as well as provide an easy to manage system -- in other words, to be a business's first server.
"The economy looks like it's moving in the right direction but small businesses have experienced cash-flow challenges and the need to do more with less," Lisa Wolfe, worldwide SMB strategy and marketing Leader for HPs Enterprise Business, told Small Business Computing.
"The MicroServer is designed for 'micro businesses,' companies with very few employees that don't already have a server environment," Reuben Miller, senior analyst for enterprise servers at analysis firm IDC, told Small Business Computing.
The new server is available immediately through HP solution partners and resellers, but it is also available via HP's website. However, because it takes some technical expertise, the company doesn't suggest that most small business customers set it up themselves.
"We're helping resellers who specialize in serving micro-class small businesses," Ganthier said. "It's meant for use in small businesses that don't have an IT staff," he added.
With the MicroServer, HP is shooting for companies with nine or fewer employees, he said. And, in fact, it's designed to support up to nine clients. "It's a huge previously unserved market," Ganthier added.
A 'Real Server' in a Small Box
Overall, the MicroServer is designed to be both inexpensive to acquire and cost effective to operate. A starter MicroServer costs $329.00, which includes a one-year warranty that covers parts replacement," according to an HP statement.
HP designed the MicroServer to be energy efficient. "It had to be quiet and be able to be run with a 200 Watt power supply," Ganthier said.
In addition, it needed to be compact. The entire server is a relatively small black box -- an "ultra micro tower" -- that looks like a speaker sitting on, or under, a desk. The unit measures 10.5 x 10.2 x 8.3 inches.
The server is powered by a dual core, 1.3 GHz AMD Athlon II processor -- middling speed for that CPU line but fast enough for most small business computing needs, IDC's Miller said. It can be configured with up to 8 GB of RAM and 8 TB of pluggable internal hard drives -- plus it has 2 MB of cache.
The system also includes an embedded SATA controller that supports RAID 0/1 and a Gigabit Ethernet server adapter.
For operating systems, customers can choose between Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Release 2 (R2) Foundation or Standard editions, or Red Hat 5, according to HP.
"The MicroServer is a server in the traditional sense ... it has four drive bays, ECC memory, and a remote access card for remote management," Miller said. Error checking and correcting (ECC) memory is designed to correct bit errors which might otherwise bring down the server. (Note: the remote access card is an add-on extra.)
"This is going to be a very good starter server for a small business," Miller said. "''I don't see anyone offering anything similar."
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